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Creative Arts Therapies Department

Art Therapy Program

 

Michele Rattigan, M.A., A.T.R.-B.C., N.C.C., L.P.C., Art Therapy Alumna 1996

Michelle Gattigan
What is your current professional role?

I work as both a professional art therapist in private practice as well an an educator in the field. One of the aspects I currently enjoy is being able to create a bridge between the clinical and educational settings utilizing current case examples to assist students in their learning of the text.


Why did you choose the Hahnemann Creative Arts in Therapy program at Drexel University?

The reputation of the program was by far most impressive. Attending a rigorous program such as Hahnemann was the best to challenge me and prepare me for the field.


What is the best thing about your job?

That I love what I do! So many people have attended college and pursued higher education only to find themselves unhappy. I am rewarded in my work by sharing my love for art and creativity while creating opportunities for people to make positive changes in their lives.


What was the best part of the program?

The small classes and interactive learning experiences. These both allowed for excellent peer support and excellent relationships with the faculty. In this program, I felt like whole person and not a number in a lecture hall.


What did Drexel University contribute to your career?

A stellar education and the confidence I needed to enter a growing field with countless potential.

 

Sandy Sheller, M.A., A.T.R.-B.C., L.P.C., Art Therapy Alumna 2004

Sandy Sheller
What is your current professional role?

I work as a mental health treatment specialist and supervisor at the Red Shield Family Residence, a family homeless shelter that is part of the Salvation Army. Using art and family therapy, I see children, teenagers, and adults individually, within the family context, and in group settings. As a mental health specialist, I am responsible for training staff within the shelter and for training the Salvation Army's other direct service providers in issues pertaining to trauma, loss, and mental health. I am also responsible for expanding comprehensive therapeutic programming for the residents in the shelter through supervising student interns and collaborating with other providers.


Why did you choose the Hahnemann Creative Arts in Therapy Program at Drexel University?

I chose the Hahnemann Creative Arts in Therapy Program because of its reputation as one of the best programs of its kind in the country. It was also important to me to attend a program with an emphasis on psychodynamic theory so that I would have strong theoretical grounding. Finally, the dedication of the department heads and professors along with the small class size were positive factors that contributed to my decision-making process.


What is the best thing about your job?

What is optimal about my job is I have substantial flexibility to create what I believe is needed at any given time. Staff is very supportive and works collaboratively as a team. There is great respect for creative art therapies and the importance of healing trauma to prevent violent re-enactments. I feel very fortunate because working as a therapist is a job where you get paid to relate to people and learn about their most inner selves. Using art therapy can assist in getting under defenses quickly and has helped me maintain an element of play when frequently dealing with the intense traumatic histories of my clients.


What was the best part of the program?

The hands-on experience through practicum's and internships in the field while simultaneously receiving dialectical training, allowed for an optimal learning experience. In addition, being required to create one's own art as a reflective practice further assisted me in developing a professional stance. Through the support of the professors, I was encouraged to continue my education by completing a one-year post graduate program in Couples and Family Therapy, adding to my knowledge base and professionalism.


What did Drexel University contribute to your career?

Being a graduate of Drexel University, a prestigious, well-respected institution, has been important. The school's rigorous requirements prepared me for handling the multiple and diverse tasks that are part of my job description. Having to write a master's thesis helped me develop an ability to impact change in a larger context through preparing me to conduct research, write for grants, and become published. My knowledge base was advanced through the research training so that I am now in a position to implement cutting-edge therapy modalities in the field of mental health with trauma victims impacted by violence, family breakdowns, and homelessness. Furthermore, my professional accomplishments achieved because of having a well-grounded education, recently led to my appointment to serve on the Council of Advocates Committee of the Philadelphia Compact, part of the Blue Ribbon Commission for Children's Behavioral Health. This further enhances my ability to influence and develop new systems for effective mental health treatment modalities.